Taoiseach confident FG TDs will support Bill

Publication of abortion legislation and Savita report on same day a ‘coincidence’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has expressed confidence that he will win the support of Fine Gael deputies for the proposed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill

Speaking in Cork Mr Kenny also warned that any Fine Gael Oireachtas member voting against the bill would face consequences.

Mr Kenny said the abortion issue had been highly divisive for many years and the legislation published by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly was designed to be sensitive.

Mr Kenny said he was always open to speaking to anyone within Fine Gael who might have concerns or anxieties about the legislation and he had already spoken to a number of people within the party in this regard.


“Obviously people can take it upon themselves to make statements about their intentions and obviously the consequences of those are very clear from a party point of view,” said Mr Kenny when asked if he feared losing a number of deputies over the issue.

“I would hope the rational debate we can have about this now that the Bill has published will allow people to understand that what we are doing here is regulating and bringing clarity and legal certainty to the constitutional rights which women have in this country in regard to this”.

When asked to comment on today's Irish Times Ipsos MRBI poll, which showed 75 per cent in favour of legislation published to deal with the X case and 14 per cent opposed, Mr Kenny was reluctant to be drawn particularly on suggestions the government was not going far enough.

The poll found 81 per cent of people favoured allowing abortion in cases where pregnancy results from rape or abuse and 83 per cent favoured allowing abortion where the foetus will not survive outside the woman but both categories are not included in the legislation.

“The polls are obviously an indication at the moment of the people’s approach to these matters but Government have been very careful here that what we are required to do is to legislate within the constitution in respect of the X case,” he said.

"The requirement is to bring legal certainty in respect of the circumstances where women are entitled to a termination of a pregnancy where there is a real and substantial threat to their life in Ireland and it's within those parameters strictly that the government has acted here"

Mr Kenny rejected criticisms by anti-abortion activists that he sought to demonise the Pro-Life Campaign in his speech in the Dáil when he spoke about being accused of being a murderer and receiving letters written in blood.

“I’ve had some discussions with some of our younger deputies who were quite upset at the range of material that they received, a lot of it anonymous and from different sectors - it makes no impact on me personally and I haven’t had any reaction since nor do I want any.

“I haven’t been critical of any sector about this other than to point out public representatives in general received a volume of material which doesn’t add to the quality of debate that people are entitled to have and which is needed about an issue that’s as sensitive as this.”

Mr Kenny said it was simply coincidence that Dr Reilly published legislation on the same day that a HSE report into the death of Savita Halappanavar and he pointed out that there were a number of other reports into the tragedy still be published.

"I might say the tragedy of Savita Halappanavar doesn't go away and the report being published today under an international chairman by the HSE is one of a number of reports here - there is also the coroner's report and the report to come from HIQA itself

“Minister Reilly obviously will need to assess the findings of all three reports and respond to them but as I say, Savita died in these circumstances and that tragedy is not diminihsed but it is important the facts be determined as both her husband the teams have set out to do.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times